Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new bill on Friday (4th) that provides up to 15 years in prison for anyone who deliberately spreads disinformation and damages the reputation of the military on Russia-Ukraine issues. The dissident law has made journalists shy away, and overseas media such as the BBC and CNN have announced the suspension of their reporting in Russia.
After the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Russian officials have repeatedly accused the United States and its allies of deliberately spreading false news in an attempt to sow discord among the Russian people. To this end, the Russian parliament passed an amendment to the criminal law on Friday and handed it over to Putin to sign it to spread false news. Acts are included in offences punishable by fines or imprisonment.
In addition, public calls for sanctions against Russia are also considered illegal, punishable by fines or up to three years in prison.
In order to protect their journalists, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the British BBC, the American CNN and Bloomberg (Bloomberg) have announced that they will suspend their reporting in Russia to prevent them from being jailed.
A CNN spokesman said: “CNN will suspend its reporting operations in Russia and continue to assess the situation and next steps.”
Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait said: “We are very sorry to have to suspend news coverage in Russia,” adding that the criminal code amendment aims to turn all independent journalists into criminals.
The BBC also said that it will not put employees at risk of criminal prosecution, and all journalists and support staff in Russia will be suspended, but will continue to provide Russian-language news services outside Russia.